NEW TECH: Sunraysia Community Health Services Well Women’s Health nurse Jo Collins hopes that a new pap test will encourage more women in the region to get regularly tested.

By ALEXANDRA TRELOAR

PAP tests are not fun to talk about, and are certainly not fun to have, but new technology being trialled in Sunraysia will soon mean women can have the test less often, and with clearer results.

Sunraysia Community Health Services (SCHS) has been trialling a new version of the cervical cancer test, which only requires women to have it once every five years as opposed to the old test that needs to be undertaken every two years.

SCHS Well Women’s Health nurse Jo Collins said the centre is the only one in Mildura offering the new test, which will be widely available by December.

“The test procedure is the same, but with the advancement in the testing process in the lab it’s more refined, which means women need it less often,” Jo said.

Unlike the old pap test which involves a screening of the cervical cells, Jo said the new version is much more involved and advanced.

“The old technology is just simply looking at the cells, whereas this is an actual DNA test of the cells, so it’s much more technical and a much safer test,” Jo said.

She said the amount of pap tests being performed at the clinic has more than halved in the last few years, saying women can’t afford to become complacent when it comes to cervical checks.

“It’s always the ones that are under-screened that end up getting something,” Jo said.

“I screened a woman once who hadn’t been tested in about 15 years, and she actually had an invasive cancer that would have been picked up if she had come in earlier.”

And it’s not just Mildura women that are becoming complacent with pap tests. The latest statistics have shown that in Victoria, 83 percent of women diagnosed with cervical cancer have either never had a pap test, or didn’t have one regularly before diagnosis.

It’s recommended that women, of all sexual preference, aged between 18 and 70 who have been sexually active need to have the test regularly, as it can detect infections like human papillomavirus.

Jo said women who visit SCHS to get a pap test don’t need a GP referral, and that it costs just $10 for health care cardholders, and $15 for others.

“We know it’s hard for people to come, but it doesn’t take that much time, it is invasive but not painful, and it’s so much better than the alternative,” Jo said. “Because there can be no symptoms until it’s too late.”